By MICHAEL LETENDRE
The Bristol Observer has learned that Bunty Ray was named Bristol Eastern’s boys basketball coach this past Wednesday, taking over for the retiring Mike Giovinazzo.
Ray, the head baseball coach at Bristol Central since 2007 and long time assistant to Bill Sweet on the Lancers’ boys soccer team, becomes just the fifth coach in Bristol Eastern boys basketball history.
Giovinazzo, who coached the Lancers program since the 1982-83 campaign, won 340 games over his thirty-four years at the helm for Eastern.
Ray has been a vital part of the Lancers’ program over the seasons as a freshman, JV coach and Giovinazzo’s top assistant at the varsity level.
He’s also filled in for Giovinazzo for a couple of games, losing two close contests – including a 53-48 setback at Rockville in overtime back on February 21.
Giovinazzo ending up replacing Jim Bates, the Lancers’ most successful coach in program history (90 wins, 67 losses).
Bates and Giovinazzo, who was the JV coach and lead assistant at the time, led Eastern to the 1980-81 Class L title game as the Lancers (20-6) fell to St. Bernard 64-46 in the championship finale.
Recently, Giovinazzo and Ray have been the backbone of the Eastern program as a one-two coaching punch and the duo took the squad all the way to the semifinal round of the Class L state tournament in 2010.
That team was ranked third overall in Class L, falling to New London 66-46 to complete a stellar 20-4 campaign.
That season, the Lancers were the CCC South Champs (13-1), the top squad in all of the Central Connecticut Conference and finished the season ranked in the top ten of most state basketball polls.
Ray graduated from Bristol Eastern in 1994 and, while attending Eastern Connecticut State University, helped the Warriors win the 1998 NCAA Division III National Title in baseball as a member of the program.
Ray will look to improve upon Eastern’s 2-18 season from the 2015-16 campaign and hopes the Lancers will be a state tournament qualifier in 2017.